The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Monday arraigned the former Provost and Bursar of the Federal College of Agriculture, Ishiagu, Ebonyi State, Paul Ajah Onu, and Samuel Atoi, respectively, before Justice Maureen Adaobi Onyetenu of the Federal High Court in Abakaliki on a four-count charge of alleged conspiracy, abuse of office, fraudulent diversion and misappropriation of public funds.
A statement signed by the commission’s Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said the duo allegedly misappropriated over N130 million of the school’s funds.
Their arrest, investigation and subsequent arraignment, according to Uwujaren, followed a petition by members of the institution’s Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institute and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIA).
The union had alleged that the provost, with the help of some staff of the college, transferred excess funds from the staff personnel emolument account to other ‘illegal’ accounts. The duo was also alleged to have illegally awarded salaries and other fraudulent advances to themselves; employed wife of one of them and placed her on a level far above her qualification and experience.
Uwujaren said: “Investigations by the EFCC revealed how over N100million was illegally transferred from personnel emolument account on recommendation of the bursar to other accounts between 2009 and 2012 with the approval by the provost, contrary to the provisions of the financial regulation.
“For instance, N100 million meant for the construction of a farm guest house was paid into the account of FECAI Ventures (a business unit of the college under the control of the provost).”
“The fund was progressively depleted without the money being used for what it was intended,” the statement added.
When the charges were read to the accused persons, they pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution counsel, J.A. Ojogbane, asked the judge to set a date for trial but counsel to Onu, J.O Asonuka, pleaded with the court to consider the accused persons’ application for bail as their alleged offences were bailable.
The judge adjourned the case till tomorrow for hearing on bail application, and remanded them in prison custody.